Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Pre-ride Friday July 9th

Chris, Tim and I decided to pre ride the race Friday the night before the big event. I thought this was a good idea to ride the night before so I would have a chance to recover for the race the next day and so I would be better prepared for the race. It didn't turn out that way. The wet course with slippery roots, a lot of slow climbs and tricky downhill sections put a lot of self doubt in my mind. Once again I crashed and bent my hanger deraileur, probably on the easiest part of the trail. When we completed the 10 km  loop, I was somewhat distraught and was actualluy thinking that I shouldn't ride the next day.

Race Day Saturday July 10th

With the skeptism mainly behind me, I think I'm feeling O.K. about the race coming up. I better feel good because  there are only 7 riders entered in my category, which means a minimum of 3 points I can win for Tinker Creek in the team competition (you have to finish the race to get any points). The temperature at race time is 26 with fairly high hunidity, not good. I head up to the starting line with my start plan all worked out once again. Let all the other riders go first so you don't have to pay any attention to them when they are passing you later on. It works like a charm.

The first 1.5 km's or so are mainly downhill and with some boggy areas. At this point in the race I'm actually feeling pretty good. I manage to ride some of the downhill rooty section a little better than the night before. Any improvement is a good one for me. I only have to get of my bike once.

The next km is a slow climb with wet roots and some windy sections in the begining. Already there is quite a lot of separation between me and the closet person in my category. I'm way behind. I'm crawling; there isn't the same juice in my legs as the night before which is a bad sign. I shouldn't be in my small gear up front, but I just don't have the legs. At this point I'm starting to sweat and breathe fairly heavily, another omen. I'm often off my bike due to my lack of control when going over roots. Oh joy! Some of the riders who started in a start time behind me are already catching me. I don't have the stamina to maintain any kind of speed. Drop back down into the small chainring, back into the middle ring, no back in the small ring. What the hell ! This is only 3 km's out of 20. Calm down, drink water, you are just warming up, things will get better.

The next 2.5 km to 4 km doesn't have as many long uphills. I think that this is my time to ride fairly comfortably. Not me, recover, drink lots of water, keep in the middle chain ring. I'm never going to finish this race. I don't care if I don't get points for the team. Finally back to the lodge.

The next 4 to 6 km's or so is my favourite part of the trail. Winding with some ups and downs, but no long gradual climbs. An area of the trail where I think I can make up some time. For me making up time  is not losing as much time as I did in the earlier part of the race. I start to feel a little better here. Maybe I can finish this race.
Back to the lodge; feeling pretty good about myself; I just might finish after all.

The next 6-8 km's prove to be my downfall. I start with a fairly short steep downhill just after a quick turn. I  ride my brakes the whole way with my right foot of the bike on the ground. Not very smooth or good technique. I have to be careful because of my crash here the night before in the pre-ride.Keep on going, lots of winding single track ahead. I'm starting to feel my entire body slowing down. I just don't seem to have the power to climb any of the short climbs. There is no energy in my legs making, it hard to ride the uphill with any sort of proper technique. I'm off my bike here even more than I was in the earlier part of the race. Frustration has set in quite strongly at this point. Another fairly steep downhill, with roots on the path. I handle this one a lot better than I did the previous one. The only problems with downhill is that you have to follow it with uphill. Some slow winding uphill single track looms in front of me. I bonk, crash, get off my bike and quit. I can't handle this any more. I'm done. Points, who give a shit? I drink some gatorade and look down at the scenery. I can't ride any more I'm finished. Drink more you will feel better. I try to start riding again, 20 meters and I'm off my bike again, shit. I start to have that old feeling. The one that starts in my stomach and ends off with a good hurl. Fuck it! I'm quitting riding. What the hell am I doing here any way? The only inspiration is those stupid points for the team. Screw them. I continue to walk my bike up experiencing some dizziness at this point. who knows maybe I will feel better after the first lap and can continue on. No way I'm never going to make it. Keep going.

I finally make it back to the lodge with quitting on my mind. I only have about 2 km's to finish the first lap but have more less given up at this point. Be strong, finish the first lap then decide if you can make it around again. What the hell! Tim is by his car off the track.He never lapped me. He can't be finished (one of my goals; don't let the guys I know lap me). He must be having bike problems. If Tim can't finsih for whatever reason, I don't have to either. Sweet! Pain of defeat alway feels better with company. What? There's Chris, Rachel and Miriam. There's Gerald. I'm confused. There is some yelling at me. It's the race comissionairre. We are cutting the race short by one lap. She notices a bewildered and somewhat blank look on my face. "If you were to complete 2 you only have to do 1." What? Process this information. I only have to do one lap; I can finish. What a relief ! Only 2 more km's, I can do it. Keep on going--you still have the long climb ahead of you.

The last 2 km's start off with a shaley downhill. I feel pretty good about the way I handle the shale, in much more control than I thought I would. I think that the news that the race has been shortened has given me some extra energy. Wrong, any climb has me off the bike and walking. I make it all the way down to start off the last 1 km climb. I'm going to try my hardest to climb some of this. Granny gear has me slowly climbing up. Relax your shoulders, relax your whole upper body, breathe nice full breaths. Shit! Get off my bike and walk. I end up stopping a couple of times to look back to see if any of the elite riders are going to lap me. Not yet. My whole body is kaput at this time. I end up walking almost all the last km. Finally the feed zone which is located near the end of the lap.  I get back on my bike for the last 30 meters. I take the last turn and triumphantly cross the finish line. Great joy that this hell ride is over.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Dr. K comes up big and news about the other FGBC

Great excitement at the meeting.  Marls comes up with the stickers, and they are fine.  They're a little tricky to apply, so we got the start of a demo til the waitress sent Dave's bike out.  It was a low moment.

We also noticed a group of about 6 guys all sitting around one table wearing fine FG product.  As we are leaving one comes outside, so I had to ask...  apparently it's fairly cheap.  Get this $5 for the FGD ball cap.  Then he says, we need to meet the FG employee he's sitting with, who just comes out for a smoke.  We had a great chat.  He loves our FGBC (although we didn't quite get around to the logo...).  We had a nice talk about marketing and where the company's headed.  More to share some time... but it's late.


fort garry bike club stickers are here!

hey all - i have the stickers in hand, and plan on bringing them to the cambridge tonite for dispersement.  they cost $20, so if you want some, bring a couple of bucks.  they are available in black, orange, and disco ball silver - beauty!

see you tonite.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

a small video from Penner

Penner put a small video from our spring ride (the one he tried to email to y'all) on his webspace.  Right click on the link and choose "save target as..." and save it to your hard drive.  It's about 1MB in size. 
Bike club video.
The only problem is that you need Windows Media Player Nine.  You can get that here for older computers.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Thunderhill Race Report

So the Thunder has been trod. Not quite as epic as its name promises, but a bit of an ordeal nonetheless. Actually, the official race slogan--Tread the Thunder--is kind of appropriate for this race, since much of it ended up being covered by foot. Mostly, in my case, due to the short steep climbs that might be rideable if it weren't for spinning out on a root at the base. This is easily the rootiest course I've ridden in Manitoba. I'd forgotten about that part of it. My ass must have been sore last year, because it was yesterday as I bounced from root to root hardtail style, but clearly it has a weakened capacity to remember.

After Friday's wet and muddy, not to mention mosquito infested, preride, my mood for racing was a tad on the sour side. Why did we drive 6 hours to ride in a swamp for a couple of hours? With all the wet roots, this had the potential to be one dodgy race. But it didn't rain overnight as forecast, and it actually ended up being warm and sunny during the day, so by 4pm the course had dried up quite a bit. This made it possible to ride through all the squishy bogs and climb more hills than otherwise.

One of the great features about Thunderhill, aside from its dorky name, is its long climbs. There is one long, gradual climb about 1km into the course that just seems to go on forever. And then to end the 10km lap is a 1km beast of a climb that has a way of inducing some serious self-doubt. Actually, more like a 10 minute confidence-shattering crisis. Worst of all was the pain these climbs inflicted on my back. It felt like someone had attached a vice around my lower spine and was cranking it tighter and tighter with each turn of the pedal. In between the climbs is about 6km of twisty singletrack (not unlike the new section at Bur Oak but a little less tight) and a bunch of fun downhill sections. My plan for the race was to survive the middle section without losing too much time and to gain all of it back and more on the climbs. Things played out pretty much as expected: the middle section was characteristically sloppy. After a momentary lapse of concentration I nailed a tree which led to a cuss-filled tumble from my bike. There are likely also a few more pieces of bark out by Swan River with my hide clinging to it. At least I seem to be missing a few chunks of flesh from my knees and thighs. Fortunately, however, there were no serious incidents. On the climbs, I was able to reel in and then drop a bunch of riders who, as usual, I let get off the front at the start. I ended up spending most of the first lap in 2nd place, but was hoping I might be able to make up that time during the 2nd lap. That was not to be, however, as the officials called it a race after only one lap. I guess they thought we'd exceed the time limit set for us lowly Sport class riders by more than a reasonable amount. This is the second year in a row that has happened, which is kind of frustrating. But at the same time, it was nice to be spared the pain I would no doubt have had to confront on the 2nd lap.

Look for a report from Unger coming soon.

In other race news, start thinking about the stage race scheduled for Asessippi on Sept 4 & 5. Five stages in two days: a fat tire crit, an uphill time trial, a cross-country race, a downhill race, and . . . I'm not kidding . . . a round of Playstation 2 Downhill Domination (anyone have one of these we can practice on?). But most importantly for FGBC members is the special two-day license possibility. Non-licensed riders can get a temporary race license for $15. This is a perfect opportunity to try out a race without having to fork over the big bucks for the standard UCI license. You can register for as many or as few events as you like. It should be noted that there is a tradition of sorts shaping up of late summer events: namely last year's gender barrier-breaking Medora event, and the previous year's proto-FGBC riding at Riding Mountain. This looks like a great option to round of the summer riding season for this year.

Hal was spotted riding his bike on the road today. After riding to Unger's place and back, might it be possible that he's got more miles in him than some FGBC members?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Thunderhill, Garbage Hill, and Hal

Unger and I, along with Tim L., are off to Swan River to race this weekend at Thunderhill. Sounds scary. I'm expecting some sort of Norse saga. The hope is that the distance from Winnipeg will mean fewer racers and thus higher finishes for us. Hope those at Folk Fest at least pause to consider that it would not at all be out of order to bring bikes to BHP for a little diverson from all the music.

Unger, James, and I had a nice ride yesterday at Garbage Hill, even if Unger did come out of it minus his bike computer. Plans are shaping up for the fall/winter race series, and you can expect the Hill to be included in the schedule. So head there for training if you like.

Hal reports that he is back on the bike. Still safely within the confines of his basement, but back on two wheels nonetheless. Seems to be missing a bit of strength in his calf, but he's looking to be ready for a late summer/early fall return to the races.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

nice ride at Birds Hill

Unger took Penner and I for a tour around the riding options at Birds Hill. It was a fine time. First, Burr Oak, where the current off-road racing happens. Some fairly tight corners like we haven't seen much of as a club... Unger went over the bars, I was stopped dead by a tree with a shoulder abrasion to show for it, and Penner drove his knuckles straight into a tree. A good time was had by all.

Then, a quick road ride over to the Chickadee area where the old course used to be, but it's obviously less well marked, so we dropped into a number of sections, but likely didn't find it all...

And back to Burr Oak to finish. When Penner was separated by a fork in the path, we determined that the possibility of a downed Penner was not worth continuing on, so we went on the search, and found him in the parking lot by the car...

Johnny came out for the post ride gathering on my deck.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

Jonny G down

While I appreciate the race reports from the race director, I'm a little bummed to find out it's almost a week since Jonny went down on his road bike, and no word was given to the team. I paid a visit this eve to find him in a sling, out of commission for a while.

He doesn't remember what he hit, apparently, but his front tire punctured, and he went over the top, with a posterier shoulder dislocation... or something like that.

If I forgot to do it while there, I best do it electronically, "Best regards from the Klub Jonny. Heal well."

Thursday, July 01, 2004

BAFE Race Report

The Bring a Friend Event is back at Birch. I'd forgotten how superior the riding is there. I think over the last year I've been trying to convince myself that there are other places to ride in Manitoba that are equally as good, but that's just not the case. Birch can throw so many different things at you--rolling, twisty singletrack, technical switchbacks, steep climbs, and longer, more gradual uphills for the roadies--that it makes racing there so much more interesting. Sadly, I was unable to find a friend to bring along with me. With the MCC ride also going on, as well as kids' birthdays, not to mention the standard run-of-the-mill apathy, nobody was available to cash in on the free opportunity to experience the thrill mtb racing. Or maybe it's the condescending attitude. Hopefully next year will be different. We need to start working at FGBC representation. What has the director of outreach been up to lately anyway? Happily, hopalong Hal came along, which made the whole event more enjoyable than it would otherwise have been. I especially appreciated he encouragement on my first trip up the lung-busting double camel climb, as well as his seeming approval of my off-the-bike descending technique on Chizzlers.

I wasn't expecting to do very well, since I hadn't raced at Birch before, and since it is more technical than the mtb racing I've done so far this season. But I ended up finishing a surprising 3rd. The new handlebars again deserve credit for some of that. I just feel like I ride more confidently now than I did when I was worried about running into trees all the time. Funny why it should work out like that. I think this is the first time I've completed an entire mtb race where I haven't come off the bike unintentionally. Hopefully that's a trend that will continue. But I was also able to maintain a more consistent pace than many of the others, who seemed to fade badly on the second lap. I think all the road riding, and especially the time trials I've been doing, are a big help there. While I'm hardly a climber, it is usually the hills where I'll make up time on the competition--though that likely says more about the competition than me. But in any case, all the climbing at Birch worked our to my advantage. About 3/4 of the way through the first lap, I started catching more and more people, and when I started passing those who usually beat me, that was a big-time confidence boost. I still finished 5 minutes back of Kevin B, so there's still lots of room to improve. Among other things, I need to work on starting faster off the line. But at this point, I'm just happy to see some better results. I'm sure things will look different at Falcon Lake, where the riding will be more technical.

Go to the Birch Club site for full results and pictures. Hal also took some pictures, which may appear on the Tinker Creek site.

Tinker Creek had a good overall performance: finishing 2nd and 3rd in 30+ sport; 1st, 3rd, and 4th in 40+ sport; 2nd and 3rd in Senior sport; and 1st in Junior sport.

We will have to take up Mr. Hudson and organize some sort of ride so that those FGBC folks who haven't yet experienced Birch can get in on the fun. Just ask the Duke how great it is. Darryl, you might have to take the lead on that, since you see Mr. Hudson regularly--unless Luke wants to step up to the plate.

The TdF starts in just two more days. Is anyone finally going to dethrone that Armstrong guy? Six in a row somehow just seems to exist on a different metaphysical plane. Not even Unger's Habs could get there. It's going to be a wild three week ride. We'll have to get together for some early-morning yerba fuelled fun for some of the more definitive stages. Just so you don't get caught off guard, you might want to start booking time off for July 16, 17, 20-22, and 24. But the the most important of all, and easily worthy of a sick day, is the Alpe d'Huez uphill time trial on July 21: 1130 m of climbing in just 15.5 kms could well decide the Tour. It's almost as exciting as those stickers Marls keeps talking about.